1 Corinthians 14:1. Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts,
“To live is Christ” is not an “either – or” proposition: either have spiritual gifts or have love (but you can’t have both). No. You can and do have both. But love is supreme. Without it spiritual gifts mean nothing. You can have love without a spiritual gift and your great. But if you have spiritual gifts without love, watch out.
So pursue love, Paul says. Stop pursuing a false spirituality rooted in experiences that puff you up. Instead, pursue true spirituality as love. Love that seeks to build up the whole church. Everything we do and say should promote unity, and working together for the gospel’s sake.
1 Corinthians 8:1. we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up.
Paul will spend the next several verses of chapter 14 distinguishing between the spiritual gifts of tongues and prophecy. In the process his argument will always land on doing what is best for the church, and building her up.
1 Corinthians 14:12. So with yourselves, since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church.
In chapter 13 we saw that Love is a personified power. It is Christ’s life inside of us. It is something that we receive by faith. But here in 14:1, we are reminded again of the dual nature of faith. Faith is both dependency but also active response. So yes, we must depend on Love as a gift to us, and trust in God’s love for us through the Son and Spirit. But we must also, by faith, respond in an active pursuit of love within the church body. Love now is the law by which we live (the Law of Christ) and, at the same time, the indwelling power by which we live it.
The pursuit of love then becomes our collective aim. We are to desperately chase after it. This is an ongoing, never ending pursuit of an understanding of love and its response within the specific situations of life. This is not the pursuit of someone to love us, but rather, because Jesus already does love us, it is the pursuit of an experience of his same loving way of life.
To pursue Christ is to pursue his life of love. Do we just want to know facts about Christ? Do we just pursue Christ for his gifts? Or do we really want to know Christ as the crucified Savior King whose love changed the world? Do we really want his love to be our new way of life in a world that is desperate for love?
“To live is Christ” is the pursuit of love. When you are living from Christ’s life you are living from love. Life now becomes a faith journey whereby your trust in God’s love for you results in an active pursuit of understanding the way of love in each and every situation you find yourself. How can I be patient? What is the kind thing to do here? What will build up the Body? What will it cost me to bear, believe, hope, and endure all things? How can I pay that cost?
Are you pursuing love? Are you a student of how to love like Christ in the specific situations of life? Is love your new instinct? How can you desire knowledge, gifts, and strength and yet remain loving? How does our union with Christ answer this question for us?